Abstract

Eucalyptus pellita F. Muell. has become an important tree species in the forest plantations of SE Asia, and in Malaysian Borneo in particular, to replace thousands of hectares of Acacia mangium Willd. which has suffered significant loss caused by Ceratocystis manginecans infection in Sabah, Malaysia. Since its first introduction at a commercial scale in 2012, E. pellita has been planted in many areas in the region. The species replacement requires new silvicultural practices to induce the adaptability of E. pellita to grow in the region and this includes relevant research to optimise such regimes as planting distance, pruning, weeding practices and nutrition regimes. In this present study, the nutritional status of the foliage was investigated with the aim to develop near infrared spectroscopic calibrations that can be used to monitor and quantify nutrient status, particularly total foliar nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in the field. Spectra acquired on fresh foliage in situ on the tree could be used to predict N and P with accuracy suitable for operational decision-making regards fertiliser application. If greater accuracy is required, spectra acquired on dry, milled foliage could be used to predict N and P within a relative error of 10% (R2c, r2CV, RMSEP, RPD = 0.77, 0.71, 0.02 g 100 g-1, 1.9 for foliar P and = 0.90, 0.88, 0.21 g 100 g-1, 3.0 for foliar N on dry, milled foliage). The ultimate application of this is in situ nutrient monitoring, particularly to aid longitudinal studies in fertiliser trial plots and forest operations, as the non-destructive nature of NIR spectroscopy would enable regular monitoring of individual leaves over time without the need to destructively sample them. This would aid the temporal and spatial analysis of field data.

© 2021 The Author(s)

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